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The Emperor's Assassin: Memoirs of a Bow Street Runner (Dell Mystery)

1 rating: 1.0
A book by T.F. Banks

For twenty years, England and France have been at war. Now the war has come home…    On a sunny July day in 1815, Plymouth Sound is crowded with boats vying for a view of England’s great battleship HMS Bellerophon. For … see full wiki

Author: T.F. Banks
Publisher: Dell
1 review about The Emperor's Assassin: Memoirs of a Bow...

A muddy, confused plot!

  • Dec 5, 2010
In July 1815, having returned home from war with France, HMS Bellerophon, one of England's finest battleships, rests at anchor in Plymouth Sound transporting a very special prisoner. The water is crowded with everything from dories to schooners with passengers clamoring for a look at Napoleon who is being held on board pending the English government's decision as to whether he should be executed, exiled or held over for civil trial.

In the resulting chaos, a woman apparently drowns and washes up on shore. But when her body is examined more closely, she is revealed to be Angelique Desmarches, the mistress of a high level French aristocrat, and it is clear that she has been tortured. Henry Morton, one of Bow Street's best known Runners, smells a murder and his initial thought is that she has been interrogated for her possible knowledge of the Royalist's plans for the captured Little Emperor!

Skulduggery, corruption, intrigue and secret diplomacy all hide under the rocks that Morton turns over as he conducts his investigation from London to the shores of the English Channel. Unfortunately, despite the high hopes I had for this novel after my immense enjoyment of Banks' debut novel in the series, THE THIEF TAKER, this second entry in THE BOW STREET RUNNER series just didn't seem to click.

Whereas THE THIEF TAKER was deeply atmospheric filled with a rich cornucopia of period detail and a puzzling, well-plotted mystery peopled by well-developed characters whose lives would mean something to a reader, THE EMPEROR'S ASSASSIN was a rather muddy, meandering mystery that seemed to plod along rather interminably and lurch from one crisis to the next without really developing into anything exciting. The lack-luster plot that left me, frankly, confused as to who was royalist, who was loyalist and who was on whose side. Nor was this weakness mitigated by colourful character development or a strong descriptive portrayal of the rich, teeming ambience of the Regency period.

Only moderately enjoyable and not really recommended as a particularly good example of a Regency mystery.

Paul Weiss

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